Steps to Health Introduction

— Written By Meghan Lassiter and last updated by Patricia Burch
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Hi everyone, my name is Meghan Baker and I am the new Nutrition Educator in Duplin and Sampson County for North Carolina State University’s SNAP-Ed, known as Steps to Health. That is a huge title so let me explain a little more about what it means.

SNAP-Ed stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education. It is the nutrition education arm of SNAP. This program is funded through the US Department of Agriculture and delivered nation-wide. Steps to Health is NC State University’s SNAP-Ed program. Steps to Health educates and encourages limited-resource North Carolinians to eat smart and move more. This goal is accomplished through nutrition and resource-management education programs along with interventions to create healthy food environments.

About two-thirds of adults in North Carolina are overweight or obese and the state struggles to address high rates of adult diabetes and hypertension (NC Steps to Health, 2018). Habits, like poor eating practices and a lack of physical activity, that contribute to chronic disease are not only affecting adults, but also children. Only about 25% of children in North Carolina are consuming the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables per day (NC Steps to Health, 2018). Steps to Health aims to address these issues with evidence-based and effective nutrition education and programming. Since 2007, Steps to Health has improved diets, nutrition-related behaviors, and physical activity levels of thousands of North Carolinians.

Steps to Health offers direct education programs to preschoolers, elementary students, and also adults. These programs typically aim to improve nutrition knowledge, increase physical activity, and discuss making healthier food choices. Programs also have several activities, taste tests, and healthy recipes to further engage individuals and get them excited about their health. Steps to Health also works with community partners to implement strategies that help transform community spaces into places where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

Last year, 1,348 adults attended nutrition classes, 61% improved their healthy eating behaviors, and 49% of adults are more physically active after the program (NC Steps to Health, 2018). Last year there were also 9,281 pre-k and elementary students that attended nutrition classes and 66% of students reported eating more fruits and vegetables after the program. It was also reported that 89% of students are more physically active after the program (NC Steps to Health, 2018).

If you or your organization would be interested in learning more about the programs Steps to Health offers or how they could assist your local community, please call the phone number listed below. I look forward to learning more about the community and impacting the lives of Sampson County.

Meghan Baker, is a Nutrition Educator serving Duplin and Sampson Counties. She is housed in the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Duplin County Center and can be reached by calling 910-296-2143.